Never Ending

It's the beginning of June now and I have moved out from my house near the beach, I feel like in a few weeks it will hit me that I really do miss it down there. A lot of weird things have been going on lately with certain relationships and things definitely have not worked out how I wanted them to. Maybe there is a reason for that, I wish it could be fixed, but I know the more I sit here and dwell on it, the more it will hurt me and hold me back. If things are meant to be, I believe that only time will tell. That being said, I know that it is time to rely completely on myself to do whatever I want/need to do in life. I have been doing my best to do the best work I possibly can, I have been upgrading my gear and learning how to use it and slowly but surely, I am getting better with it all. I am becoming more responsible, more understanding and more aware of investments I can make to help me out in future situations. Though the work is literally nonstop and I struggle to keep up with things, it is something I need to learn to handle. 

I just got my GH5 and filmed my first video with that yesterday, I think I did pretty well with some of the detail shots in this older home. My goal was to show what makes the house unique compared to others in the area which is also my goal for almost every other house I shoot. Day after day, I realize how grateful I am to be doing what I love and I am looking forward to going on a business trip halfway across the country to film some work for Baileigh Industrial this week. This job has been planned for a while now but it is such an accomplishment to know that Simply Visual Productions is being hired by a much larger company to put out some work for their social media pages. I was reminded of this when my buddy John called me up earlier telling me he had just spoken with the social media manager and said that he was already talking about having us go out for more work after this. I couldn't be more excited to be traveling and doing work for a company because just a year ago, I never thought this could be possible, it was just something I was dreaming of.

From all the work coming in to all of the personal work I am trying to keep up with and all of the people I am trying to help out; busy never felt so real. At this point in my life, I realize how important it is to put all the effort I can into what I do and continue to better myself in anyway I can, one of my main priorities in life is the work I do and I don't think that will ever change. I think it is time for me to sign off on this one and get back to everything! Here are a few photos to look at!

Memorial Day Weekend

I never really celebrate the holidays, nor do I care to unless there is actually something going on. I have had so much work lately that I just need to sit down and get going on it all. Instead of doing what most of my friends are doing which is going out, partying and hanging out all day, I need to give myself space and focus more on work because I'm not so sure what partying will do for me. I would love to have a break from all the work, but I need to know that I can still get all my stuff done without pushing it back and having to cram it all in and not do a good job with it. Lot's of stress lately, but aside from all the negative words I just threw out there about holidays, yesterday actually turned out to be a really great day for me.

Though I've been down in the dumps here and there, I had scheduled an appointment earlier in the week to do headshots of a good friends friend. She came over around noon and we talked, got her comfortable in front of the camera and took a bunch of photos for her to send out and use wherever she needs to. It was awesome to meet and work with this girl as she seems to be very passionate about music, singing and acting. She was also very good at playing the guitar and had an amazing voice, which I came to find out after she left. The hardest part about doing this shoot was that this good friend of mine and I aren't really on good terms. I have nothing bad to say about her because she is such an amazing girl, but I did not want to decline these headshots for one of her friends. At the end of the day, I think I did the right thing and I hope that she is able to make good use of the photos I took of her.

A few months back after I had bought my Inspire 2, I was left with three different drones. I knew that it was time to sell at least one and keep the other incase I ever needed it. Anyway, I ended up selling my drone to a 14 year old who lives a few towns away. I remember him coming here to pick it up with his parents and being really excited to have this new drone. It was a bit of an awkward interaction as I was not so busy during these months, but as time went on things changed a bit. Greg, this 14 year old turns out to be very interested in photography and video. He would reach out to me asking questions and looked up to the work I was doing. A few weeks back he was inspired to try a long exposure after seeing a one that I had posted. Turns out that he actually went out there, figured out how to do it and did a really good job with it. From there, he reached out to me and asked If I would be able to fly with him during the weekend when he would be at his beach house. After seeing how much he cared about all of this, I had to go fly with him and be supportive because I am so amazed that someone this young cares about what he is doing than some of my older friends even do. After taking the headshots, I packed all of my drone gear up and got ready to go out and fly with Greg; from here, my day really changed in the best way it possibly could.

When I got to Greg's house, his whole family was there enjoying a party of their own. As soon as I stepped out of the car, I was greeted by Greg's father, Greg, who almost seemed like a completely different person from when I first met him. He asked me about work and how business has been and we proceeded to talk for a while. After that, I spoke with a few of his family members and showed them some of my work and told them a little more about me and my company. It felt great to see that everyone I talked to was so interested in my work and that was something that really made me feel good. From there, Greg and a few buddies of his led me to the lake where I flew the Inspire 2 for them. Knowing drones, they were all really excited to see this one fly and had so many questions to ask about it. When we finished up there, we headed back and I let Greg check out a few of the files I had just shot. While we were back at his house, both of his parents invited me to stay for dinner and being that I had nothing else to do, I said yes and gladly joined them. Honestly, this whole experience was the best thing that has happened to me in a while. These people pretty much invited me, a stranger, into their house and let me eat with them, have a drink and hangout. I chatted with Greg's dad more, spoke with his uncle and some of his other family members and it made me realize how important family is. I am really fortunate that this ended up happening because I have been so negative lately dealing with people who are unhappy with me and unhappy with my work. I also live away from home, so I wasn't spending any time with my own family and it meant a lot that they were so welcoming and let me stay as long as I wanted. After dinner and all, we went out for one more flight and I returned to say thank you and goodbye. When I was driving home, all I could think about was how great Greg's family was and how I could never turn down a favor from them again. I hope that I will be able to teach Greg anything he wants to know about photography and hopefully one day he can become a part of my company.

Quite a long post there but I felt like I needed to share this because of how meaningful it was to me. After feeling down because of a situation I've been in month after month with someone I care so much about, I was able to pull myself out of it by being surrounded by such good people. On my way back home, I went out to fly once more in Belmar and got even more awesome stuff making my day that much better. If this was too much writing, then hopefully the visuals will be enough to satisfy!

Saying Goodbye

Another three weeks has gone by and I still haven't added another article. At this point, I guess you can just say I don't even have to make up an excuse for not doing it haha, I've just really been avoiding it in my free time. Who knew that work and life would become so stressful a year after graduating college. I have literally never been busier in my entire life than I am now and as good as it feels, it sure is a lot to take on! 

I don't even want to get into all the ups and downs I have been through lately, but pretty soon I am moving away from a place I have learned to love so much. For the past five years, I have lived in Long Branch NJ, right by the beach. I think the beach was what shaped me into who I am today and as cheesy as that may sound, I really do believe it's true. I have had the ability to go out on the beach during the winter months here and shoot whatever I want. I got a lot better at long exposures and really learned what it is like to be able to take in my surroundings while I am out shooting. More importantly than that, the beach was a training ground for me when I was learning to fly and shoot with my drone. I had tons of open space to fly and never had to worry about hitting anything or crashing into something.

After flying at the beach for nearly two years now, I realize the opportunity I have unlocked as an aerial photographer. At first, it was just something I wanted to try because I thought it was cool but it soon became a habit. I slowly learned to love flying and caught myself becoming immersed in the work I would do with my drone. Because of this, I was able to start using my drone to make money, as a part of my job... If you told me that a little over a year ago, I wouldn't believe that was something I would be able to get into. Today, I have a completely different mindset than I did last year. I see what can be achieved with drones and I strive to go out there and get better with mine every single day. Who would have ever thought that I would end up owning an Inspire 2 with an X5S?! That was literally a drone that I would used to dream about owning until one day I was fed up and told myself it was time to step it up if I wanted to go after the work I was looking for. I could not love my drone anymore and I am so happy that it has been able to help me get to where I am today. I have done a solid amount of work with it up until now, but that was just a start for what is to come in the next few months and years.

I guess I am writing this blog today because these past couple of weeks it has really hit me that I'll be moving away from the beach. Aside from photography, I have met some of my best friends down here in college and others after college that I am really very close with now. I have learned so much throughout the past five years I've lived down here that it has shaped me into who I am today. I look at myself now, knowing that I am an adult and that this next move is the beginning of my actual adult life where I completely support myself off my own work and my own income. You never really realize how much you love something until it's gone and this place I call home, I have to say goodbye to. As hard as it is to move on from this, I know that it is the right choice to make. All the people I have met, all the friends I have made and all the memories I have will be remembered as I look forward to pretty much starting a new chapter in my life.

 

It's Been a While

I have really been slacking with this whole blog thing recently as I find myself working on so many other things and being stressed out over all the work I've had. I should still have time to sit down and write a few things or share some photos, but it sure has been tough. Before it gets too late, I wanted to write about a few different things, mistakes, work and time. In the past few weeks I have realized why I have been stressed and realize that it isn't the end of the world as long as I can learn how to handle these situations.

Everyone makes mistakes, but I had made one big mistake at an important shoot and was lucky to find my way through it. I'm not sure if anyone reading this has ever lost files on their memory card because of a corruption, but that is exactly what happened to me and I was at a loss for words. Thanks to a good buddy of mine, Ishan, I was able to recover all the files I needed and not have to worry about screwing up the job I did. After the corruption mess, Lightroom began giving me problems and messing up even more files, so I had to sort that out. Though this technically wasn't my fault, I'm sure it could have all been avoided. However, I learned one big lesson from these stupid mistakes and that was to be more prepared in my profession. Things can go wrong but there is no higher up to deal with my problems or help me out so I have to use the recourses I have or rely on myself to learn from these mistakes and not make them again. Definetly a big awakening for me and a good kick in the ass for the work thats to come.

Work has been absolutely insane lately as well. I love it but the hardest part is dealing with the people and being able to please them. As I continue to shoot real estate, I am slowly starting to realize that I don't want to do the basic real estate stuff... boring wide shots of a room, aerials of the property, quick turn around times. Forget it. I want to start doing fun, creative work. Work that I enjoy doing. I want to go to a house and spend the time there to create something really special and amazing that will help future buyers say, "That's my next house." I want to take awesome photos, I want to take awesome aerials, I want to create amazing videos of the homes I shoot so that people can admire a place they can maybe soon call home. That being said, I am working on getting to that level with Simply Visual Productions and I think things are going to start coming together pretty soon.

Time. It hasn't been easy to make time for certain things. I have never been so busy in my life and I am happy that I am busy, but being busy and being my own boss means that I am the one that makes my schedule and I am the one that needs to be able to manage my time so that I can get all the work I have done. I have photo editing, video editing, music searching (hardest part!), emails, phone calls... I'm constantly in the car driving all over the state shooting. It isn't easy to make good use of time when there is very little of it. I have to say I am pretty good at managing my time and getting things done when I need to, but I do need time away from work where I can go out, enjoy myself and take a break from reality haha.

I actually did something recently that I have been wanting to do for a while. After seeing Mike Kelley's Aviation work, I was inspired to find a place near the airport where I could photograph planes. I brought my friend Britt along with me and we found a spot in Elizibeth where the planes would come in to land and we explored the area and shot away. This was my first time shooting planes, but I will share a few images I like. I hope to go back soon and try getting even better photos since I know what to expect. Aside from the planes, Britt happens to be an awesome and beautiful girl who loves to model. I was happy to block out some time for myself to spend it with her shooting! Anywho, that seems like a long boring blog, but here are some photos if you don't wanna read it all :)

Keep Moving

I always try to talk a little bit about myself in these blogs even though I'm still not too comfortable with it. This past week has been hard on me because I feel like I am letting go of someone who is close to me that I really care about. On my end, I know that maybe it's best to let it be for now and continue on with my life and my work. If things turn around let them, but I realize I have so much opportunity in front of me that maybe this is a good thing for the time being.

I realize that when I get into these phases, photography becomes an escape for me and creating images is a way for me to express my thoughts. None of this is completely intentional but when I look at these images, I relate to them in a different way then usual. I have also come to the conclusion that my favorite way to take aerial photos is by shooting straight down. Yes, I know I can tilt the camera in any other direction but this perspective is just so interesting to me. Every time I go out, I shoot this way...and I will continue to do so!

I have made another purchase which I feel is going to really benefit me and allow me to keep pushing my work. The new MacBook Pro will be arriving here today and I can finally work away from my desktop. I think this upgrade alone will make my life a lot easier and a bit more stress free so I am hoping I can really enjoy this new computer. It will be nice to finally get out of the office and be able to work wherever I want again, quite a luxury if you ask me (I've spent countless hours in my basement office because that's where my desktop is and it really takes a toll on me haha). I know I may be writing all boring and weird just cause I am a little upset, but I'll get over it. I am still happy to see things shape up and head in the direction they are with work and life in general; it's all just part of growing up. I know I still have a lot of hard work to get involved in, but I am ready for the challenge. I look forward to putting out work that myself and others can appreciate.

 

Blah Blah Blah

These past couple of weeks have definitely had their ups and downs as I have been dealing with work, relationships, finances and so on. One thing that hasn't changed is how much I love doing what I do, regardless of how much I do it. It came to me the past few days while I was at some of my aerial jobs and just being out flying my drone for my own personal photography. People always ask me questions about the drone or what I am doing with it. At first, this used to bother me cause I never really had a reason to fly aside from practicing my photography or videography with it. Now that I basically fly my drone for 90% of the jobs I do, I tell them this is what I do for work, I shoot a lot of real estate and tell them I am out flying for fun. It is always great to see their reactions to the young guy just flying his drone at the beach, a majority of these people don't even understand what these drones do or what they are capable of and for me to have the knowledge and experience I do with them makes me feel great. I absolutely love that my drone has become a part of my life and that I am able to use it for work as well as my own personal use.

When I think about my friends and their jobs and think about how nice the weather has been lately, I almost feel bad they are trapped in an office all day with a 30-60 minute lunch break. Though I'm in my car between 3-7 hours a day driving from job to job, I love to open my sunroof and cruise around when the weather is nice. When I get to my jobs, I get to spend some time in these homes that really do blow my mind sometimes. The best part is that I get to take photos or create a video.....or fly my drone so that the realtors I work with can market them online. Who in a million years thought I would become a real estate photographer? I love that I face a new challenge in every single home I enter, whether the outside is too tight to even be flying a drone, the inside is too big for a flash to do anything or the home isn't exactly ideal for a creative video. I always have to find a way to solve these problems in order to put out work that I like and work that the realtors are happy with. Though it is hard and takes a lot of thought and time and effort... it will only help me improve my work.

Everything else from relationships to stressing about taxes has been the bumpiest part of it all. You'd think in the four years you go to college and dig yourself into a hole with debt and student loans you'd learn a little bit about how to be an adult. Maybe college teaches you (or offers courses on) how to pay your bills, save/invest/put away money, something about taxes... Nope. I learned nothing about any of this in college and boom; I get spit out into the real world learning to deal with it on my own, as I would assume a majority of students do. Most people graduate and have one source of income from the job they go to every day. Now I think that makes dealing with taxes and income a bit easier, however, I have over five different sources of income, more running through my business and not one single idea about how to deal with all this all because it is my first year actually having to file taxes for real life work. Enough with the rant, but I was able to solve my problem by getting in touch with an accountant my buddy recommended and I plan on working with him and learning from him so I can get myself and my business more organized and do not face any of these problems later in life.

If taxes aren't enough, I swear every time I begin to get close with someone, something ends up going wrong. I always try to find a solution but again, it doesn't always pan out the way I see it. Now I sit back and just wonder, is it really worth it to me? My honest answer is yes, but with the amount of work and stress I have been dealing with, I don't like these little games our generation plays on each other or how we deal with real, meaningful situations. I feel like the technology has made us so immature and texting rather than talking face to face has created a wall where we cannot see the emotions or reactions of the person on the other side. I've said in my blog a while ago and I'll say it again now; the people who truly care about you and want to be part of your life, will be the ones that stick around. Whenever I am in these situations, I have a hard time with several things but I know that with a little bit of time and the right mindset towards it, things will be alright... or at least I hope so lol. Anyway, the only girl I need on my side right now is my beautiful drone who takes awesome photos and videos and is super supportive of the work I do :)

Aside from that and the real estate with it picking up faster and faster as spring moves in, my company has been landing a few other big jobs, one being out in Wisconsin that I am sure I will be writing about soon enough. I am thrilled that we will be taking another business trip and unlocking some new opportunities for our company. It feels good to show people our work and see that they enjoy it so much that they are willing to fly us across the country to do work for them. I am proud of the things I have been able to accomplish and know that this isn't even the beginning because there is so much more to come. I am willing to work as hard as I possibly can to achieve the things I want in life, whether that be work, relationships or achieving happiness, and I don't see a reason to give up until I get there!

 

End of March Reflection

I wrote this blog last Friday night, but didn't really feel like I should post it because it's pretty personal. Sometimes it is hard to share the thoughts I have with the world and when it is up on my site, everybody and anybody can see it and read it. Hopefully this will be something that can help others out, whether they just come to realize something in their life or learn something from reading about mine.

It is every once in a while that I am able to sit back and reflect on things and tonight was definitely one of those nights. After sitting here and looking back on this past month, I am proud of myself for all the work I have done. However, there is so much more work to come that I haven’t even gotten myself involved with yet. I guess what made me realize how busy I have been was the fact that all of my roommates were hanging out while I was out at a meeting tonight with a lot of potential. After driving back home at 9pm and not looking at my phone for about an hour, I realized there was a big work conflict and I had to deal with that. When I step into the house I get the “There he is!” And tell everyone about the meeting and how excited I am about moving forward with everything. I then go back to my office to make more phone calls and answer a few emails. Normally people are done with work at 6 pm or so, but my hours don't stop, I will take calls or get back to people regardless of the day or time because I want my clients/the people I work for to be happy. I realize now that I am on my phone a lot and people sometimes get annoyed about that, but 85% of my work is done through my phone alone and I am constantly working no matter what. I've learned one thing through all of this and that is if you can manage to put the work in, good things will come.

What I am getting at is that I have been working for about 10 months now in the real world and just now things are shaping up to be where I want them to be. I'd love to say that things are fine where they are, but they aren’t. They aren’t fine where they are because I see where they can go. Work to me has become so important because I have realized that we are capable of anything we put our minds to. No dream is big enough. If you can put the effort into getting where you want to be in life, you can get there. After meeting up with a group of six kids who are in the first stage of creating there business and hearing them talk about doing something they love instead of doing what a majority of people do, got me really fired up to work with them. They had a whole plan, funding, connections and everything they needed to me they seemed like they were ready to go. I was able to admire them for being able to realize at the age they are at, that they are able to do whatever they hell they want in life regardless of anything else. The only thing stopping anyone from doing what they want are the obstacles they create for themselves.

Along this whole ride I’ve had creating my own business, I realize no part of it is easy and no part of it should be. There are times that relationships will be damaged, friends will be lost and that times get rough but despite all the downs, there are ups. For all of the hard work, time, effort, and passion that goes into creating something, comes nothing more rewarding than being able to look back and realize what you have achieved through it all. Of course I want to stay close with certain people and all they need to understand is that I am in the process of creating something very valuable to me and in order to get there I need to be able to handle all the work I have and make sure it is done to meet my standards. It is important to me that my company stands out because of the hard work we put in to make each and every project as perfect as it can be. From all of this hard work, I hope to travel, enjoy what I do and live a fun creative life. One day I hope to have an awesome, happy family. Something that I didn’t exactly have growing up as a child.

Tonight I was able to sit back and reflect on a bunch of things. There is so much I want to accomplish in my life and tonight I was able to realize the good and bad of it all. No matter what stands in my way, I look to push through the obstacles, keep my friends and family by my side and be able to provide for the people who I am close with. I didn't start doing this because I thought it was going to be easy doing what I love for a living, I did it because I truly enjoy it and see how much photography and videography is becoming a bigger part of life day after day. I want to be one of the people out there making my dreams come true, while helping others make their dreams come true.

Bad Weather and Some Work

Weeks have gone by and the weather here still hasn't let up. We've had constant rain, fog, wind and all kinds of weather that really restricts any sort of flying for me. To add to it, last week I was really sick and did not feel like I was in any condition to be out flying anyway. It has been really annoying to not be able to go out and shoot when I want and I feel like I am getting lazy because of it. I've had enough of the winter weather and would like for spring to come so I can get out and shoot more and maybe even see some color coming from the trees so the things I shoot aren't so dead looking. This week I am feeling much better, however there is plenty of rain in the forecast for the next couple of days. I am hoping it will clear up by the end of the week and I can get out there for some personal flying once again.

The past few weeks that the weather hasn't been up to par for me, I have still been working on the nicer days. I've had a ton of jobs rolling in because spring is finally here and the market for real estate is starting to pick back up. I look forward to working more and more as it gets busier (even though I'm getting slammed at times) and challenging myself to get more creative inside some of these homes. Below I will post a few videos I have made. These videos are something I can see becoming the norm for real estate as time continues to go on. One of my favorite things about shooting real estate is showing the home in a way we don't typically see it. I love to allow the viewer to focus on smooth, slow pans of the room and then jump to different detail shots of/in the house to really make it unique to the other homes I shoot. I feel like some of the music I use can also add to the video by adding a sense of emotion. It is tough for me to talk about how or why I make my videos the way I do, but that is something I will elaborate on another time! In the mean time... Enjoy!

Ithaca

I always talk about how I want to travel and take photos and videos of a specific place, but it isn't always easy to find the time to go out and do that. Last week, a big snow storm was headed our way and we were expecting to get between 12 and 18 inches of snow. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to actually take some time off and travel because I more than likely wouldn't be working in the snow. All my jobs from Tuesday were pushed to Monday because of the storm and I think that was the busiest day I have had thus far. I spent a solid six hours in the car driving from place to place to shoot and did a total of seven jobs. Throughout all of this, I was on the phone with my buddy planning our trip to Ithaca that same night before the storm really started coming in. I got back home around 8pm on Monday, finished up all of my work before 10pm and was on the road by 10:30pm headed up north to shoot some stuff you wont see here in Jersey for once.

3am we pulled over at a rest stop to sleep in the car for a while. The caffeine wasn't helping much and the weather was absolutely insane. Worst drive of my life so far. The snow was coming down so hard we couldn't see more than 10 ft in front of us. The only thing that kept us on the road was the contrast of the edge of it and the tire tracks that were already on the ground... if there even were any. To add to the stress of driving in this crazy weather, every 30 minutes we had to pull over to clean off the windshield wipers because they kept freezing. After a quick rest, at around 7am we headed back out, roads just as bad, if not worse but the big plus was that it was daylight. About three hours later, we roll up to our hotel and very thankfully got into the room early so we could catch up on some sleep.

Later that day we got up, got dressed and set out to explore the area in which we would be filming/taking photos. Again, the visibility was low, the winds were strong and the snow was coming down. The roads were really bad so we had to drive slow, even though we were in a pretty safe Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with 4 wheel drive (the weather always wins). We found two gorgeous places with waterfalls, one was the main attraction we had gone out to see and the other was my favorite with a walking bridge going right over the view of it all. I snagged a few pictures on my phone just to get some ideas for what I wanted to shoot the next day in hopes of the weather calming down a bit more. 

The next day we got up and immediately got ready to go. We packed up the car with all of the gear, grabbed breakfast and coffee, then headed back to the spots we scouted the day before. The weather still wasn't what we wanted but we ended up shooting, just with a lot more caution. After all the shooting was done, we went for a hike in the two feet of snow to get down to the bridge by the waterfall we came to see. As horrible as that hike was, we rewarded ourselves afterwards with a hell of a burger and some beer from Ithaca Ale House.

This trip was proof of how ignorant I can be at times by risking plenty to drive up in a horrible storm, but like I say, these photos don't take themselves. We were as cautious as we could be driving up there and only shot what we could, when we could. We honestly didn't have much time to shoot considering how wild the weather was, but it is the trips like this that I will forever remember; the good and the bad of it all. I am happy I was able to arrange my schedule to be able to take this trip, and I am even happier that I was able to come home with some content to show from it. Though I would have enjoyed better weather and more time being able to film, I took what I could from this trip and am glad I made it there and back safe.

Luck vs. Work

The other day I was talking to my sister on the phone who don't get to see very often. She is a junior in college right now and is working on getting her degree and finding the right thing to do with her life once she graduates. I am very proud of my sister for realizing that she is able to do anything she wants to do in life, this whole idea of "doing what you want" is not an option for many. Thinking about it now, this idea didn't click for me until I was a senior in college. For me to see my little sister taking the steps she needs to take to get where she wants in life, makes me really proud as a brother. I think that anyone can achieve what they want in life if they put the effort into getting there.

Anyway, while I was on the phone with my sister she brought something up that I have mixed feelings about. As I was telling her about me being 22 and living on my own, paying for all the things I have and supporting myself, she tells me I am "Lucky" to be where I am now. I don't think she meant this in an offensive way at all, but that word really doesn't fit into the reality of things. Was it luck that I decided to get into photography? Was it luck that I started to take it so serious? Was it luck that I began to go out and shoot all the time to get better? Was it luck that influenced me to buy better gear to be able to put out some of the work I do? Was it luck that I have taken huge risks to get where I am today? Luck?

I would have to say that me being where I am today is due to all of the work, time and effort I put into getting here. Luck may have a little bit to do with it all in certain areas, but luck is not the reason I am where I am today. When I look back at where I was, even just a little over a year ago, I am amazed at how much further I have come along. What a lot of people don't realize is that I am constantly doing things to allow myself to move forward. I don't just sit around and watch TV, hang out, sleep in, and go out with my friends all the time; I am able to understand the right time to do certain things so I do not get too distracted... I am one of the only people I know who wakes up every morning at 6am to go to the gym and get back before 8am so I can start working. I am one of the only people I know who would rather create something that I can be proud of rather than be distracted by all of my surroundings. I am one of the only people I know who is actually can do what they say. In the past year alone, I have learned how important it is to keep up with everything and be responsible when it comes to working as a freelance photographer. When people see the work I do, they do not see what went into achieving it; that will never be something someone else can fully understand aside from me. 

When it comes down to being lucky, I don't think that I am "Lucky" and I don't think that many other, much more successful people are "Lucky". I believe it is the effort they put in that gets them to where they are in life. Without that drive, without that passion, without that motivation, maybe they would be comfortable being normal. Maybe they wouldn't push themselves to work harder, do better and achieve what they want in life, but it is all a decision they make. They are able to handle the challenge and overcome any obstacle that comes there way to what makes them, them. In the end, I do believe that "Luck" plays a part in life, but I don't think that it is the reason for peoples success.

Is that a Toy?!

The other day I was out with my two good friends, Vin DeMilio and John Stessel. We were just driving around shooting while I was trying out some new Aerial Portraiture with my drone. We started off at a park in Deal, NJ and then headed to Asbury after while the sun was going down. We get to the boardwalk and Vin heads off in one direction to go fly while John comes with me to be my "Magic" model (If you don't know John, he is the best magician I know and also one of the most inspiring people I know too. John is the type of person who chases what he wants and doesn't ever give up on it. Because of that, he has come so far along in his magic career and I couldn't be more honored to be his friend). I was flying right by the "Casino" on the Asbury boardwalk for about 20 minutes thinking of creative ways I could shoot aerials with my 45mm lens on my Inspire 2. This was my first run at it so it was hard to come up with ideas but I was starting to get a lot of shots I liked. My whole goal was to stray away from the classic straight down shooting that I typically do, I wanted to challenge myself to create something a little bit more unique, something that could potentially stand out when people see it because it hasn't yet been done. Anyway, at the end of my shoot, I was doing my last shot and this woman walks up to me just as I landed the drone and asks, "How much does something like that cost ya?" I continued to very politely explain that a good drone can range from about $700 to over $5000 like this one (which is not how much mine costs, it is definitely more but I don't need people to know the actual price unless they are actually interested in buying one themselves). After I tell her that, she steps back, looks up at me and screams, "Five Thousand Dollars for a Toy?!"

A Toy.... John gets up from laying on the ground, picks up his cards and walks over to me and this woman and goes, "A Toy? That is not a toy." From here the woman went on and I was just shocked by all the things she was saying. Asking me things like, "What do you do with that thing, take pictures and videos?" Ummmm.... Yeah I do, and actually I do this for a living too. You don't need to announce the price of my drone to everyone out on the boardwalk at the current moment or look down on what somebody else is doing. Get your shit together and be an adult. This was the first time I was really annoyed with someone asking me about the drone. Usually people are friendly and ask questions that I can answer but this woman straight up tries to insult me. Never will I ever let a person like that bring me down. My drone is not a toy, it is a camera and to me, a camera is something very important. 

This whole little event was a reminder to not let other peoples words bring me down. I don't know what was wrong with this woman, but clearly she didn't understand anything about what I did, nor did she care. There will always be people like that out there, and there will also be plenty of other people who do care and have an appreciation for what you do. If you love what you do, don't let other people have an affect on it. Keep doing what you feel is right and what you feel will make YOU better. In a way, I am glad this happened. I was able to stay composed and think about what she had said. I could have easily flipped out on her or gotten into an argument, but it wouldn't have been worth it. That is not the type of person I am and it would have been a little bit immature to react in a crazy way like that. So there is another short story for the week.

Working too Much?

A lot of my friends ask me why I work all the time, whether it is me actually working, going out to shoot for fun, sitting at my computer editing, or just looking through photography stuff and staying up to date with things. I have to say that I didn't actually notice how much time I was spending doing all of this until Sunday when I was sitting at my computer going through images from New York and started to get a bit irritated because the pictures didn't "meet my standards." Now, all of these pictures came out great and they were all photos I liked, but for me to actually use an image or share it, there has to be something special about it. So right here, I realized I drove out to New York to shoot, paid to get up to the top of the Rockefeller for sunset, waited up there for two hours in 30 degree weather to take the photo I wanted. What's funny is the photo I had in mind was nothing like the photo I actually really liked. In the end, cold as hell, I got the shots I wanted, grabbed a bite in the city and began my journey home. I went straight to my computer, uploaded my images and went through them for about another two or three hours. I realized how often I do things similar to this just for the sake of getting a photo. A drive hours away to shoot a photo I want, to go back home to the computer and put more time into it.... all so I can create an image.

So do I "work" too much? No. Because I am not working, I am doing something I truly enjoy. If I didn't enjoy doing all this stuff, then why would I put so much of my time into it? I was watching "Abstract" on Netflix the other day with a friend of mine and in the very first episode, the artist mentioned that you cannot get better at what you do unless you consistently practice it. This was something I really believe in and I'm sure I've said it before, practice is one of the most important things because the more you do it, the better you can be. If you do not believe in that concept, then I encourage you to try it, find something you love and do it day after day. One year down the road, turn around and look back on what you've learned and I guarantee you will be shocked to see how far you have come along. It was amazing to see how much the artist had achieved throughout his career just from working so hard at it again and again. We can create all the content we want, whether it's for work, practice or fun, not all of it will be shown or looked at ever again, but it does exist. All of that "work" we did helps us push ourselves forward for the actual work that we do or the personal work we take risks making. For some people work is only 9-5 Monday through Friday; for others, it is never ending. 

Practice and Life in General

After making a few upgrades to my gear, I realize I need to take the time to go out and learn how to use it all in order to put out the best possible work I can. My drone, I am absolutely in love with and blown away by the quality of the photos and video I can take with it. The one thing I am still struggling with is the video with my 45mm Olympus lens mounted to the drone. This has to be my favorite combo when flying because it gives off such a cool look that is very hard to achieve without these materials. My goal is to master using these tools so that my shots are smooth and stable. I currently only single operate my drone and am not really a huge fan of the flight modes. 90% of the work I do is all manual, I control the speed, direction, camera and everything to achieve the shots I want. As hard as it is to do this sometimes, I am used to it because my Phantom 3 didn't have these options, but I do feel like if I spend some more time working with the flight modes, they would more than likely be a very helpful feature. With some more time out practicing, I think I will find myself doing some more really cool things with this drone. If it is possible though, I would love for some warmer weather so it can be a little more enjoyable flying outside haha.

Below you will see some images from the past few days. I went out to Belmar with a friend of mine and shot the sunset with my Nikon which is something I don't do much anymore. While I was there, I realized how much I missed shooting long exposures once again. I loved hearing the sounds of the water from the waves crashing on the rocks to the water splashing in the inlet. Aside from the sounds, the sky was clear and beautiful and when it was finally dark, there were plenty of stars in the sky. It reminds me what it is like to be at peace just being out there with nature and observing the beauty of it all.

Aside from all of my work, I have been really proud of a lot of my friends lately. When I was out shooting in Belmar with my buddy, he was telling me all about his ideas and internships/jobs and what he wants to do with photography. It made me so happy to hear that because I love when people actually have a passion for something and look to pursue it no matter how risky it may be. Whether my friends are excelling in the things they do, sports they participate in, careers they choose, or choices they make, I am always here to support them with anything they need. If it weren't for these people, I'm sure I would be lost myself. I am very thankful for the people I have in my life and am happy to be where I am today because of some of the influences they have had on me. 

Two Week Mark: Couldn't be More in Love

I've had this Inspire 2 for just about two weeks now and I don't think I have loved anything as much as I love this drone. Being able to control all the camera settings is a huge advantage, but don't even get me started about how you can change the lenses because that is honestly the best part of it all. So after getting used to flying, filming and taking photos for just a short period of time, I've realized how much potential I have with this drone and I've allowed my mind to wonder and come up with some new ideas for when I go out to shoot. After pulling this huge risk and getting this drone, I think it's time to show people what I am capable of doing by challenging myself to come up with new ideas and different techniques for aerial photography and videography. I will share a few photos and a short video I have put together, but there will be plenty more to come in the near future.

Yesterday, I took a trip up to South Amboy to shoot some railroads and docks along the inlet. On my way up, I was in one of those funky moods thinking about people and how they are. I'm not sure why this was a thought that crossed my mind, but I realized a lot of people are lazy and they talk about doing all these things but never end up doing them. People ask me why I go out to take photos, why I would drive in the snow if the weather is bad, why I need to travel hours away to find a place to shoot... Why? Because I love doing it, I love the content I can create even if it takes me 20 tries to go out there and get it. I don't go out and shoot because people tell me to, I don't care if people make fun of me because I do what I do; I do all of this because it is something I want to do. None of my work would exist if I didn't go out and put the time into doing it, but the truth is, I think photography has just become a big part of my life (maybe it has become my life). It allows me to express the way I view things and I will forever strive to create compelling content no matter what it takes.

So when I think of people and the way they behave, I still can't completely figure out certain people. People come and go in life but it is up to us ourselves to choose how we behave and make the choices we need to make in life... and I cant stress that enough. This takes me to my next story about meeting a man who had nothing but a general interest in what I did who also had quite the background himself. When I was flying at the docks out in South Amboy, I noticed a few guys hanging out on the boat next to me. I was hoping they wouldn't give me any trouble for flying my drone, when about 10 minutes into my flight one of the guys walked up to me in my car and began asking me some questions about the drone. From there we began talking. He had a huge interest in drones and knew a lot about flying as he was an airplane and helicopter pilot for probably about 30 years or so. He told me he was in the filming industry a while back as well and talked about all the work he used to do from filming boat racing out of helicopters at over 90mph to duct-taping cameras onto planes and filming them fly before all these newer camera mounting systems became a thing. He told me about some of his experiences up in the plane, his first ever IFR flight where he was landing and couldn't see the runway but had to trust ATC and the Instruments to land. As a pilot who has only flown VFR, this was a scary process to trust he said, but in the end, it all ended up working out. He told me about a bunch of incidents he had in helicopters from picking up Whitney Houston at her house and having her refuse to wear a seatbelt for her helicopter ride to the city, to other solo incidents where he had to make emergency landings and even pull the chute to land safely. After talking to Bill for about an hour and a half, I realized I had just met one of the most knowledgable, courages, and inspiring person this year. He now lives on his boat with his wife and has a bunch of friends. It was an experience to meet a man like this who has completed his life and ended up where he is today; happy in the simplest place. When I look at my life, I realize how much I have and how I should be thankful for all of that instead of taking it for-granted. We only get one life and I am here to make the best of mine.

She is Here!

On Monday, I had just gotten back to Long Branch after finishing up some work in Creskill, NJ. I was excited to be home and relax the rest of the day when suddenly I received a phone call from Unique Photo that my drone was ready to be picked up. I told them that I would come up on Wednesday and grab it, but ended up changing my mind five minutes later due to pure excitement. I drove all the way back up to Fairfield with a big smile on my face excited to pick up my new baby and immediately headed back down, arriving home at night. I unboxed her, messed around a bit with the lenses and settings and was convinced to go fly near the boardwalk at night because I wanted to fly so bad.

It's been a few days now and I have to say this drone has done nothing but amaze me. I have so much to learn, so much to practice and so much to shoot! I feel like this is the best investment I have ever made and I look forward to all of the learning I have ahead of me. I really think this is a game changer and something I could not be happier about. I hope to share some content with her soon!

Looking Down the Long Road

So today, I sit here and really think about what I want to do with my work and where I want to get with it. I am nervous because I am about to make one of the biggest purchases of my life and as excited as I am about going through with this, I realize it is a high risk, high reward situation. I have spoken with my Mom about it and I have to say that I love her more than anything because she is so understanding and supportive with what I want to do. With her support, I know she believes in me and that that alone encourages me to to work harder for the things I want in life. I also talked to my friend Tom Harmon, who is an older, more mature, almost father like figure to me. He told me that he is all about the high risk high reward and that if I do this I need to hit the ground running and really put out the work to get where I want to be. 

All that being said; everything swings right back around to me. Do I believe in myself? Do I have the right mindset to get where I want to be? The answer is yes. Yes, I do. I am encouraged to do this now, while I am young because I believe that it will benefit me. I may not see immediate results, but I know I definitely will in the months/years to come. So if you are taking the time to read this, I do get worried about things, but believing in yourself has to be one of the most important things you can do. There will always be people out there to tell you that you can't do something or that this isn't a good idea for this reason... There is always someone who will try to have an influence on what you do with your life and the choices you make whether they are good or bad. It's your life and you are the one that needs to make these choices for yourself while understanding what they can do for you! The video below really inspired me to get a jump start on things while I can so they can later pay off. Taking this risk is something I see as one of the best choices I can ever look back on a few years down the road.

Big shout out to Adam Krowitz (thedroneman) for throwing this video together and if you want to see anymore of his awesome work, please check out his Website and Instagram!

Getting Busy

Finally it is that time of the year and the work is slowly coming in job by job. I have to say, I couldn't be more excited to get back at it and start working as much as possible. After a long winter break of being home and having an unlimited amount of free time, I started dying inside. Maybe this is a lesson learned because I knew these few months would be rough with a lack of work, but I wasn't sure how rough exactly. Now I know for next year to put some hard earned money to the side so I can maybe enjoy my winter months a little bit more rather than struggle through them and claim to be a partially miserable person.

Yesterday, January 24th, I retook the Part 107 UAV Test and passed after failing it by a few questions the first day it came out. This was a huge relief to me and after learning so much about planes, I think it's time to go out and start clocking some hours in the cockpit. In the near future, I look to start doing a bit flying and working on getting my Pilots License. Aside from that, there will be a new drone joining the fleet very shortly. I am beyond excited to finally have a drone where I can control more than just the ISO and Shutter Speed. Once I have more knowledge on how to fly and shoot with this drone, it will be a completely new world for me up there.

Despite all the downs I have been through, it is time to move forward and take everything step by step as I continue to get busy, upgrade my gear and learn more and more about photography and life in general. I look forward to the work that's to come while I still shoot my own personal things as well.

Tired of Waiting

I few nights ago I was struggling to sleep and kept tossing and turning in bed. Instead of forcing myself to close my eyes and sleep, I decided to lie there and think. A lot has been going on in my life lately, I've had lots of free time and little to no work. If you know me, you may know that this drives me absolutely insane; day after day I think the same thoughts and do similar tasks. In an effort to stop all this, I've been doing my best to give myself things to do but it never feels like enough. My mind has been in a real cloud lately and that restless night really pulled me back to where I need to be. I thought about my relationships, my family, my gear, my goals, and most importantly myself (sounds pretty selfish if you ask me).  At the end of all this and before I fell back asleep; I came up with a list of goals I would like to achieve along with a list of things I am good at and things I can improve on. Believe it or not, writing this down was helpful and I drew one big conclusion from it all.

My drone. It isn't good enough for me right now. I am at the point where I want to push the work I do in a way I never have before. My creativity is limited with the drone I have now as I can only control ISO and shutter speed. I also realized I suffer a huge lack in quality, especially after seeing some results from the Phantom 4 Pro that my buddy Vin just got. That being said, I told myself it was time to take action, that I need to do something about this. So.... I am doing whatever it takes to get me to this next level that I feel like I need to be at in my life.

I've come to realize that I am the one who decides what I do and people can give me advice, support me and be by my side or they can look down on me, turn into assholes and do whatever else they want. What is most important is that I know myself and what I want. With that being said, I challenge myself to take on whatever comes my way because in a few years from now, I know I will get to where I want to be. So I will keep adventuring, flying, and documenting these moments of my life and get better and better as each day goes by.

 

Taking Action

This past weekend was the first snowfall of the year and down in Long Branch, we probably got around 4-6 inches of snow. The roads were pretty bad and it was coming down all day but I never took any winter photos with my drone so I was on a mission to go out and get some. Things didn't go exactly as planned due to the weather conditions, but I did try my best to do what I could when I could. Knowing that the weather would most likely stop by night, I planned to take a trip up to Mahwah before sunrise to continue on a series I have been working on dealing with seasons and location. I got everything ready to go the night before and woke up at around 5:15am to clean off my car, warm it up, and pack it before I left. 

I drove all the way up North and got to my location around 7:15am. The sun was rising fast, and if there is one thing I've learned, you can never catch a break when trying to work with nature. Luckily, the lighting was perfect and I had a filter on my drone to limit the light a little bit. This was perfect to avoid all those messy shadows I didn't want in the photo and I ended up getting what I set out there to get. I figured after shooting I would go home and see my family for a while and wait for that sun to set so I could do a little more shooting later on while I was in the area. I happened to be scrolling through Instagram and found a photo of a hairpin road near Port Jervis, NY. It was about an hour away from home so when the time came, I said goodbye and decided to head up there and check it out to see what kind of photos I could create.

In the end, it all comes down to me taking action. We can always speak about doing something and talk about how great it can end up being, but it doesn't happen until we make it. I always admire some of the aerial photos I see online, but I understand they have to be taken somehow, by someone; a person willing to make the effort to go out and take them. These pictures don't take themselves and these locations aren't just there, it is a matter of putting the time and effort into the work we do to get what we want from it. Finding these locations and traveling to them can be pretty awesome. While we are out there we are able to connect with our camera, nature and ourselves, capturing photos which are proof of memories that will last a lifetime.

Practice Makes Perfect

I've owned my drone for quite some time now as most of you may know and I originally would film in 1080p until I realized that I could film in 2.7k and 4k. I switched over because when I create videos my frame rate is usually set to 24fps, so I usually film around 24fps at the biggest possible resolution offered. Why? I like to have the ability to crop in on the things I film and by now it has definitely become a habit of mine to rely on the cropping capability I have when filming at a higher resolution. I am able to fix the horizon line if it is off without losing resolution or even get closer to my subject by actually being further away. Having these options are definitely helpful, but looking at all this new technology coming out..... My mind is really thinking about all the possibilities when it comes to filming from an aerial perspective; especially when it comes to resolution, sensor size and frame rate.

I want the Inspire 2 more than 3/4 of the worlds population could imagine, the only problem is, I do not have the money to buy it yet. Later down the road you bet that drone will be mine and I will be out there flying it way too much. In the mean time, the Phantom 4 Pro Simply Visual Productions will have, films in 4k at 60fps with a solid 1" sensor. That is a big upgrade from the Phantom 3 Pro for sure. Aside from all the hype and excitement when it comes to new gear, I challenged myself to test my skills and jumped back to 1080p at 60fps on my DJI Phantom 3 Pro to see what kind of slower motion I could create from an aerial perspective. To make things more fun, I even used my new Polar Pro Filters which I have to say I really like and look forward to using a lot more. 

This video was shot between 3:30-4:30pm as the sun was setting here in Long Branch. For me, that is one of the best times of the day to shoot regardless of the situation because that light can be so beautiful and really adds life to the video. The filters pulled out the colors and helped with the lens flare which is exciting because sometimes that can be a pain when you are out shooting in harsh light conditions. Aside from the wind that we always get at the beach, the most difficult thing about shooting was overall control of the pans and keeping the horizon line as straight as possible in camera. Knowing that I wasn't going to be able to crop and tilt without losing quality, I was more aware of those lines and made sure it was straight when I was getting the shot. While that was ready to go, the next thing to focus on was speed and smoothness when flying and panning in the videos. Most of the stuff took a few tries but after flying for over a year and practicing these things day after day, I was able to get some shots I was happy with that kinda look good in slower motion!

If there is ever something you think you can be better at, go out and practice. I don't get paid to fly all the time but the reason I go out and fly is because I love the content I can create from doing it. The better I get at flying, the better I feel as a pilot and the more confidence I have when I go out to shoot for a client. No excuse is good enough to not get better at something you want to be good at, so go out there and challenge yourself a little bit because it cant hurt!